CHANDIGARH: Tokyo Olympics-bound discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur on Friday said she was earlier reluctant to pursue a career in athletics, considering the poor financial condition of her family and her mother’s initial opposition but took it up as her farmer father supported her.
Kaur, who hails from Kabarwala village on the Malout-Abohar national highway in Punjab, booked her Tokyo Olympics berth with a sensational national record throw of 65.06m during the Federation Cup Senior National Championships in Patiala earlier this month.
The 25-year-old eclipsed the nine-year-old earlier national record of 64.76m which was in the name of Olympian and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Krishna Poonia.
“Initially, my mother was not willing that I should go out and pursue a sports career. I was also given an example of another girl who could not make a mark,” she told PTI.
“But my father (Kuldeep Singh) supported me and when I won medals at national level, they felt hopeful. Now, when I qualified for the Olympics, it has given them tremendous happiness,” she said.
Asked if she was hopeful of qualifying for the Olympics, Kaur said, “I had set my aim to qualify for Olympics. I was praying that I would hit 65m and I made it.
“I have three months time now. I will put my best efforts and work hard in these months and that is the best way to brighten my chances (in the Olympics).”
Coming from a humble background, Kaur recalled how her sports teacher pushed her to realise her potential.
“It was during school days when my sports teacher told me that zone and district level meets were taking place, this was in 2011-12,” said Kaur.
“He told me to give it a try and I came first in the district. Despite my reluctance to pursue further, he was persistent saying that I have good height and could do well.”
She recalled that she did not want to put additional financial pressure on her father who looked after a joint family and so continued to wear ordinary shoes and compromised on costly food supplements.
“As we live in a joint family, they also have to take care of other members. I knew my father could not afford to spend a lot of money on me. I used to tell him that I will play in ordinary shoes. But now he is very happy at my achievement,” she said.
Kaur also said that mindset towards girls has changed in the society, but yet a lot needs to be done so that every girl is able to pursue and realise her dreams.
“Girls should be given freedom to pursue their dreams and realise their potential. There is no dearth of talent in our country. Girls, especially from rural areas, have abundant talent, they should be motivated to do well,” she said.
On Thursday, Kaur was honoured by the SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs. She was presented a cheque for Rs 2 lakh and a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) by SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur in Amritsar.
Former Punjab Cricket Association‘s Chief Executive Officer, Brigadier GS Sandhu (retd), who also hails from Kabarwala village, said Kaur was a talented sportsperson who will make India proud at the Olympics.
He also said that she will also put Kabarwala village on the global map.
“Kabarwala is a small village and many people who settled there had migrated from Pakistan after India’s partition,” said Brig Sandhu, former Vice-President of Indian Hockey Federation and ex Chairman Army Sports Control Board.
“It also produced a few sportspersons including Gurbachan Singh who represented India in athletics in 1956 Indo-Pak meet in Lahore,” he said.